Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ooh, Shiny Things...

Some days I swear I have ADD, or maybe months...  It's been quite some time since I blogged, mostly because there is a certain sameness to my days:  work elsewhere, work in my mill, get further behind on housework, life is pretty good actually.

Today, I had good intentions of finishing the laundry from last week, doing this week's laundry, picking up/dusting living room and dining room, vacuuming, cleaning both bathrooms and tidying up the kitchen.  What actually happened in the housekeeping department?  Only 2 loads of laundry done, 1 in dryer, another in washer, set up Roomba in living room, sort of tidied up kitchen (already can't tell), dusted (sort of) the living room.

What else did I do?  When picking up, I actually put away some yarn that I won at last week's auction at our spinning guild.  However, one item I won was a bag of yarn that needed some TLC.  Of course, doing that was preferable to housework.  Off and on, that kept me busy for quite some time.

Then I got distracted from that when the doorbell rang.  It was our intrepid (and tiny) postal worker.  She had left a box for me.  Must. Open. Now.  It was from Interweave.  I had finally made up my mind to replace my old paper issues of Spin-Off with DVDs and they went on sale last week.  I didn't think that I would be a fan of reading them on the computer, but I am hooked:  instant page turning, the Table of Contents is all linked, just click and go right to where you want, zoom in/out, etc.  I may even try doing electronic subscription next year.

I've often said that I am the world's most distractible housekeeper and today just added more proof to that claim.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mitting Knittens

Here it is, that time of year again, when I knit mittens.  I seem to have gotten into the tradition of knitting a pair of mittens for the neighbor kids every year.  They're still young, so they don't take too long.  This year's mittens are featuring the dyed yarn created when I presented a workshop on Dying with Easter Egg Dyes (or Kool-Aid) earlier this year at guild.  In a nutshell, you wind the yarn into a loose "cake" using a ball winder, soak it in water, squeeze out excess, place in your dye bath and microwave it (1 or 2 minutes at a time, 2 or 3 cycles).  Dye bath is quite shallow and only comes up to just below half way up the the "cake".  When done, let cool enough to handle, squeeze out extra liquid, flip over the "cake" and repeat with a different color dye.  It's great fun and creates such random patterns when knitted.

The other knitting project is a pair of silk mittens, knitted straight from the mawata (a la Yarn Harlot).  This time, I'm using Elizabeth Zimmermann's Mitered Mittens from Knitter's Almanac (a book that needs to be in every knitter's library).  Slow start on these while I figured out what needles were going to work best (metal dpn's). 

Those of us who follow the Yarn Harlot have read that she is pretty sure that knitting is possibly addictive.  I believe her.  Not only that, but I seem to require a very high fiber diet.  If there isn't a goodly amount in a given day, I'm edgy.  Good thing I've got lovely customers to keep me happy!

I hope to finish up spinning for our guild's Lala Shawl knitalong.  I have over half the yarn spun and am so pleased with it.  Hopefully, now that I'm getting a bit of balance to my days, I'll finish up the spinning by the end of the week.

This is Daisy after being with us for close to 6 months.  She is a pretty nice cat...friendly without being needy, likes to be near you but not on you and purrs a lot.  Daisy's fur has pretty much grown back on her ears and even her nose is furrier.  Our vet wasn't sure if that would grow back or not.  Her coat is thick and even and she's put on a fair amount of weight.   We do, however, call her a walking hairball...I swear you can watch the fur fall off her as she walks around...kind of like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One month in...

Here I am, one month in of being in business.  What can I say?  I'm working hard, learning more every day, and am pretty sure that I'm crazy.

Since it's November, some thanks are in order:
--Many thanks to my growing list of customers.  Your bags of fiber are kind of like presents to me:  I get to open them up, play with them and then happily give them back for you to enjoy.
--Enormous thanks to Mom, who believed in me
--Enormous thanks to my husband, who growled a lot, did the construction work, believes in me and is really sad that he can't park his truck in the garage anymore.
--Many thanks to my daughter, the accountant, who still thinks I'm crazy

Things I've learned over the last month:
--Label every bag, every tray, every bin.  No mix-ups have occurred, but as the number of in-process orders has grown, I can see where that would be a real possibility.
--Fine wools and exotic fibers take time to work with.  Settle down, relax and enjoy the loveliness of the final product.
--Even better, enjoy that product and learn to stagger the in-process fiber so that I can work on something else at the same time.
--Order form needs to be redesigned, no flow to it (but this is mostly done). 
--Need to finish flyers (again, mostly done).  Decided to make them "rack card" size (approx. 3-1/4" x 8-1/4") with pricing structure, contact info. and such on it. 
--Need to set up web page.  Must. call. Frontier.  New computer has templates built in.  Hopefully can just upload and be done!
--My stash was already extensive.  The front hall closet is entirely full of a lovely variety of fibers.  This is the additional stash created by purchasing fleeces to practice with.  Yep, 30 pounds of wool roving in various colors.
--A dog crate makes a pretty good "wool safe" and protects it from my small, naughty, fluff loving dog.
--Sweep often.  Dust bunnies are an understatement.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How did it get to be Halloween already?

My, how time flies around here.  I have no idea what has happened to the last few months.  Mother nature has finally decided to treat us to typical fall weather...rainy, windy, chilly and the possibility of some snowflakes over the next few days (not supposed to add up to anything, but who knows?)

About a month ago, these pheasant were visiting us almost every day.  We haven't seen any pheasant around here for 20 years.  A couple of them were showing off for the ladies!

On Facebook, there's been a picture of drunken pumpkins making the rounds.  Well, I couldn't resist.  Stopped at a farmstand, got 3 pumpkins, carved them, gathered up some empties and set off to our daughter's house.  She wasn't home at the time and was greeted with this sight when she finally rolled in:

Just like FB said, do not trust your pumpkins!

To ensure that we do not get too settled into a routine of work-for-someone-else, be self-employed, holidays are looming, dust buffalo are roaming the house under their own power and all the other day-to-day stuff, we are now foster parents to Molly, a lovely Airedale whose owners have to move.  I suspect that she will be staying here.  There have been no issues with Daisy, the cat.  Disputes have been minimal with Magic over toys and those are getting less frequent and less hostile sounding, so I guess they are working that out.  Otherwise, they get along great and spend a lot of time following each other around the house.

I've got quite the following when they all decide that it's time to follow Momma!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Not Work

Many times, at previous employers, we would often get dragged into yet another program-of-the-day, leadership workshop, attitude adjustment workshop, time management, aren't-we-wonderful-presentation, etc.  You see, training was important, didn't matter what the training was for, just that you went.  At many of those, I would hear something along the lines of "If you love your work, it's not work anymore."  Right.  Are they on crack?  Work isn't called work because it's fun, but because it's something you have to do.  It's part of being grown-up and self-supporting.

Over the past few weeks, I have found that those "experts" weren't on anything.  If you love what you do, it's not work anymore.  Really!  I can't wait to get out to my garage and mess with fiber.  Doesn't matter to me if it's mine or a customer's.  All of it makes me happy.

If it's a fleece that I've picked out for either it's good qualities or it's bad qualities, I'm really into seeing what it becomes on it's way out of the carder.  Yes, in addition to some truly lovely fleeces in my stash, I deliberately got some undesireable ones to practice on.  Like this one...dirty, stained tips, lots of VM, old, dry and a fine wool.  It's surprising how nice the finished roving is...still has some VM but suitable for some projects (maybe one of those Shepherd's Rugs?).

Customer's fibers are even more fun in a way...they're full of surprises...I just don't know what I'm going to find when I open up that bag.  These surprises run the range from premium fiber to lower quality, strong fleeces to weak ones (that break),  fine fiber to coarse, lots of VM to none at all, natural colors to wildly dyed and sometimes all in one bag.

This is a customer's fleece after being picked.  Next time I'll put something in there for scale.  Believe you me, 5 pounds of wool fluffs an amazing amount!  That pile is about 5 feet x 6 feet x 2-1/2 feet deep.  This was 2 different gray wools blended in the picker, then carded; the roving is really nice.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the next bag contains...bring it on!